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STATEMENT ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL OFFICE BEARERS OF THE APOSTOLIC FAITH MISSION OF SOUTH AFRICA (NOB) ON 24 MARCH 2020, REGARDING THE CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) PANDEMIC.
On Monday 23 March 2020, one week after the corona virus pandemic was declared a national disaster, the State President Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, announced further measures to curb the spread of the Coronavirus in South Africa.
Mr Ramaphosa reiterated that it is clear from the development of the disease in other countries and from our own modeling, that immediate swift and extraordinary action is required if we are to prevent a human catastrophe of enormous proportion in our country. The NOB agree with President Ramaphosa and applaud him for putting the people of South Africa first and before profit.
We thank all our Regions, Departments, Assemblies, Pastors, Leaders and Members for adapting their programs and behavior in accordance with the restrictions that have been placed on the country and for following the directive of the NLF as issued on 17 March 2020.
In order to delay and reduce the rise of infections, every person, including all members of the AFM, must adhere strictly and without exception to the regulations that have now been put in place by Government.
We must all adhere to the nationwide lockdown that will be enacted in terms of the Disaster Management Act – from midnight Thursday 26 March 2020, until midnight Thursday 16 April 2020.
AFM leaders and members must not be the channels of the Corona virus transmission, but they must be channels of HOPE.
During this time, ALL South Africans will have to stay at home. Individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strictly controlled circumstances, such as to seek medical care, buy food, medicine and other supplies or collect a social grant.
The only people exempted from this lockdown are: Health workers, emergency personnel, those in security services – such as the police, traffic officers, military medical personnel, soldiers – and other persons necessary for our response to the pandemic.
Also exempted from the lockdown are those involved in the production, distribution and supply of food and basic goods, essential banking services, the maintenance of power, water and telecommunications services, laboratory services, and the provision of medical and hygiene products.
All shops and businesses will be closed, except for pharmacies, laboratories, banks, essential financial and payment services, supermarkets, petrol stations and health care providers. Companies that are essential to the production and transportation of food, basic goods and medical supplies, as well as those with continuous processes such as furnaces, and underground mining operations will remain open. Firms that can continue their operations remotely should do so.
Provision will be made for essential transport services to continue, including transport for essential staff and for patients who need to be managed elsewhere.
The implications of these new developments are as follows:
All AFM structures are instructed to comply with the lockdown instructions which imply that ALL meetings of whatever format, are suspended until further notice. This also means that NO GOOD FRIDAY AND ALL RELATED SERVICES WILL BE ALLOWED.
Please take note that the 100 people per meeting restriction has been replaced with a total restriction: No meetings are allowed.
We remind all our people of Jesus’s words in Matthew 18:20 (NIV) when He said: “Where two or three are gathered in My Name, there am I with them.” For this time our primary gathering will be with the people in our own households.
We encourage our pastors and our structures to explore innovative possibilities for continuous communication with our members, including but not limited to: WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media platforms, streaming of sermons and e-mail. We need to gather Spiritually and even electronically, even though we cannot be together physically.
We need to regularly communicate with one another to encourage and to share our Hope and Faith with each other (Hebrews 10:24-25).
2. LITURGICAL PRACTICES:
2.1 All Liturgical services are suspended until further notice: This includes water baptism, the Lord’s communion, dedication of babies and weddings.
2.2 Prayer for the sick: Since no church gatherings are allowed, prayer for the
sick must be on a one on one basis without any physical contact, or remotely via phone.
2.3 Funerals: In the light of the lockdown, where our members are not able to give support to the bereaved families, pastors should respectfully requests families to consider deferring the burial of their loved ones until after the lockdown period has passed.
We want to remind everyone:
3.1 To regularly wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or to use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and clean cell phones and work surfaces with disinfectant.
3.2 People who are coughing and sneezing, should cover their mouth and nose with their elbow, a cloth, tissue or a mask.
4. SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR:
4.1 Stay at home, and if you must go out to seek medical care, buy food, medicine and other supplies or collect a social grant, follow the procedures.
4.2 Work from home if possible.
4.3 Practice social distancing of 1.5 to 2 meters.
4.4 Handshaking, hugging and kissing should be replaced by waving, nodding or smiling.
4.5 Avoid touching your face.
5.1 We call on all our people to continue with a time of prayer in their homes and through chain prayers from 21 March to 3 May 2020.
5.2 In our prayers we should include those who are sick, as well as all medical practitioners and health workers, emergency personnel, the police, traffic officers, military medical personnel, soldiers – and other persons who have to continue to work during this pandemic. People with chronic illnesses and other medical conditions that have compromised their immune system. Let us also include vulnerable and destitute people in our communities. Finally let us pray for wisdom and capacity for our Government in dealing with this challenge.
6. EVENTS TO BE SUSPENDED, CANCELLED OR RESCHEDULED:
6.1 Kindly be reminded that ALL assembly gatherings, Children’s ministry classes, AFM Good Friday and Easter Conferences are cancelled.
6.2 The outstanding NOB Regional visits, Regional Leaders-, Regional Treasurers-, -Secretaries/ Administrators and Administration of Justice workshops, as well as M.I.L workshops, are suspended, pending further updates.
6.3 If the spread of Covid-19 is not contained by the end of April 2020, all National Departments’ Conferences will have to be rescheduled or cancelled.
7. DIFFICULT TIMES:
7.1 We are keenly aware that the lockdown will have far reaching effects on the livelihood of most of our members and therefore call on Regions, Assemblies and members to share whatever they can with those who are in dire need.
7.2 Please continue to support your local congregation and its departments financially during this period.
7.3 We are reliably informed that social grants for the elderly and people living with disabilities, will be paid on 30-31 March 2020 and the other grants on the 1st of April 2020. We request our members to pass this information to their families and neighbours.
7.4 The NOB is considering other possible interventions.
8. S.A. GOVERNMENT CORONA VIRUS EMERGENCY CONTACT INFORMATION:
The National Office Bearers will update the church from time to time on developments regarding this matter.
Whatever happens, we remain people of Hope. We have Hope and we have Faith in Jesus Christ our Lord. May the grace of God, the Love of Jesus and the communion of the Holy Spirit, rest, rule and abide with you -now and forevermore. -This too shall pass.
Yours in Christ
The AFM of SA National Office Bearers